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The power of just showing up

The power of just showing up

I’m at the gym pool right now waiting for a lane to free up. The gym gets pretty crowded this time of year. It’s a temporary annoyance though. That's because at the top of each and every New Years resolution list it says something like, This year I plan to: Get in shape, Lose weight, Be healthier etc. and unfortunately change is hard. By the end of this month most will drop off, the swimming lanes will start to free up and by March 31st, this place will be a ghost town. Why is it so hard to make big changes and stick with them? We know it’s important and we know we shouldn't quit but why is it so difficult ? There are two things these new members don’t know. Just two, and they apply to almost all big changes in life, not just what happens in some random gym. First, making change requires small consistent purposeful steps. Second, almost everyone focuses on the wrong thing. 

Showing up
Most people want big change to be a triumph over a lifetime of bad habit. They focus on the work, thinking that if only they can muster up enough willpower they can overcome their resistance, so they focus on the work. The work is important, and no doubt a part of it, but what’s even more important is just showing up. Sounds simple but is it?  When I first joined a gym many years ago I was a willpower guy. I would go steadily for a little while, trying to make massive changes, then fade, then try again. I had a buddy who was a trainer and so I asked him how he did it? How did he get his body so fit, then work out every day without fail, even after his grueling schedule or when he didn’t feel like it. He told the answer was simple. He didn’t start out in great shape. He did it a little at a time over many years. Second, he never focused on the workout. All he worried about was just showing up, consistently and with purpose. He knew once he got there the rest would be automatic. I told him he was crazy so he challenged me. He said, “Next time you don’t feel like working out just get in your car and drive here. You don’t have to work out, you don’t have to do anything, just show up.” He went on, “Everybody focuses on how much they hate leg day, or abs day, or whatever day they’re supposed to be working on, so they talk themselves out of it. Don’t do that, just get in your car and drive here. Once you’re here, I guarantee you’ll walk through that front door and start working out. That's because once you're here it’s harder to go back home than it is to just do what you’re here to do, and that goes for almost everything in life. Once you show up, it’s harder to go home than it is to just do the thing.”

I took that advice and I’ve tried to apply it the best that I can to other areas in my life. Sometimes it requires a different approach but most times my buddy was right. It’s about being purposeful, consistent and just showing up. So, Mark if you’re reading this thank you for that advice and even now 25 years later I’m still just showing up.